Inlet Valley Proposed Overlay District

Introduction: The Inlet Valley Overlay District

In 2018 the Town of Ithaca commissioned an economic development feasibility study and strategic plan (the Inlet Valley Ithaca Plan) for the Inlet Valley area to explore ideas for shaping the corridor’s development future and for fostering its distinctive semi-rural/agricultural character that includes two renowned NYS Parks prominently situated within the corridor.  A key recommendation of the Plan was to revise the zoning regulations to encourage desired types of uses and a character of development that would make the corridor an appealing and distinctive destination.

The proposed Inlet Valley Zoning Overlay District was drafted with these goals in mind.  The overlay applies special land use and design standards to the lands along Elmira Road (NY 13) between Robert Treman State Park and Five Mile Drive (see overlay map).  It is composed of two overlay sub-zones:

To view the Inlet Valley Overlay District proposed law click here

To view the Inlet Valley Overlay District map click here:

To view a helpful guide for understanding the proposed Use Table in the law click here

The Ithaca Town Board is tentatively scheduling a preview of the law at their meeting on December 28th.  Following that meeting, on January 9th, the Town Board is expected to consider scheduling a public hearing on the proposal that would take place at their February 13th meeting.  For questions and comments please send an email to, or call us at 607-273-1747.

What is an Overlay Zone?
An overlay zone is a special zoning layer that sits over one or more established zoning districts.  An overlay zone doesn’t change the underlying zoning.  Instead, it modifies or adds to the regulations that would normally apply.  Rules in an overlay zone are meant to meet specific community or environmental goals, protect special features or traits in an area, or ensure new development has a certain character that reinforces an area’s sense of place.

The Inlet Valley overlay zone acts as a layer that sits on top of existing AG (agricultural), LDR (low density residential), NC (neighborhood commercial), and LI (light industrial) zoning.  The table includes existing uses and some new uses that wouldn’t otherwise be allowed on lots with LI (light industrial) or LDR (low density residential) zoning.

Design standards

In the Inlet Valley Overlay District special standards for site and building design, landscaping, screening, parking, and signage apply,  The overlay standards are more specific than what the Zoning Code now requires, but they’ll offer more certainty to those developing or upgrading their properties, and the likelihood of faster development approval.  More importantly, they’ll help ensure that new development complements the state parks, respects its semi-rural setting, and reinforces the valley’s sense of place.